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Breaking the Mould

The NEU worked with five primary schools over two years to consider how ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes could be challenged in nursery and primary classrooms.

The Breaking the Mould series of resources support nursery and primary phase teachers to think about what books they are using in their classrooms. Using a wider range of good literature is a really quick, exciting and effective way to promote inclusion.

In schools, just as in wider society, we tend to stress the differences between girls and boys far more than the similarities. We need to think of children as individuals and try not to impose expectations on them linked to gender. We can begin by making small changes to the ways in which we constantly differentiate the sexes – such as referring to ‘children’ rather than ‘girls and boys’ and not marshalling pupils in single sex lines.

In this project, the NEU, previously National Union of Teachers (NUT), worked with a small group of primary schools to consider how ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes could be challenged in the classroom. The project quickly acquired the name Breaking The Mould. The five schools were provided with support and training. The Breaking the Mould project team helped the school staff begin their planning by providing them with a range of children’s books which help challenge gender stereotypes. In the course of the project, the schools developed different and creative activities and approaches, but also common themes, emerged.

Breaking the Mould series of resources

Using these books, and the teaching notes for each title, will open up straightforward ways to talk with children about different kinds of families and relationships.

Some of these publications refer to the NUT as they were originally publications of the National Union of Teachers, which has since become the National Education Union.

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Every child, every family

This resource will help you to promote LGBT+ inclusion through reading. It’s designed to help you include every child and make sure every child has ways to see their family and relatives represented positively in their school.

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Stereotypes stop you doing stuff

This provides an overview of how the different schools looked at the impact of gender stereotypes on young people and considered how they could begin to unsettle some of the established assumptions about what girls and boys might like or do.

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Boys' things, girls' things

This booklet contains examples of how staff worked to challenge gender stereotypes both inside and outside the classroom as well as specific examples of practice from the project schools.

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It's child's play

It’s Child’s Play is a resource for teachers to use in class every day. It contains a set of accompanying notes on the project books and how to use them, plus more information on using children’s literature to challenge gender stereotypes.

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The Full Story

How books for early years and primary age children can be used to promote disability inclusion.

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